Documents to download

The National Health Service Act 1946, which set up the NHS in England and Wales, contained a provision that NHS services should be provided free of charge unless that Act expressly provided for a charge. This provision has been carried forward into the legislation which replaced the 1946 Act – the NHS Act 1977, and subsequently the NHS Act 2006.

Since the founding of the NHS, amendments have been made to allow charges for NHS services including prescription, dental and optical charges.

This briefing paper sets out the provisions for various NHS charges, which groups are exempt, and explains where charges vary in the devolved nations.

There are separate Library briefings on NHS charges for overseas visitors and NHS hospital car parking charges.

Documents to download

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